Trained at the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale in 1945
"Thought you might enjoy enclosed photos. You may recall I was talking to one of the planes on Flight 19 as I returned from FAM HOP. I also remember that I had been first pilot to fly one of the TBM's that would later be used by Flight 19 at the NASFL (BuNo: 45714). I had ferried it from the General Motors factory in Trenton, N.J over to the Franklyn Field in Norfolk, Virginia in 1944."
Observation: Lt. O'Brien's says that on 12 April 1944, his flight log diary shows he ferried TBM Avenger BuNo: 45714 from the factory to NAS Norfolk. Then a year later he went on to train at the NAS in Fort Lauderdale. The serial number would be FT- 3 which was part of Flight 19 Squadron. FT-3 was piloted by Navy Ensign Joseph T. Bossi, with crew S1c Herman A. Thelander as gunner, and S1c Burt E. Baluk as radioman.
On 5 Dec 1945, Lt. Joe O'Brien says that he had left around 2:00pm for the exercise (FAM HOP = familiar hop), and was returning around 4:00pm to the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale where he was training, when he overheard Flight 19 on the radio. He sensed some trouble and tried to offer suggestions of flying into the sun in a westerly direction, but he had no idea they were in serious trouble, and the signals were getting weaker. He thinks now that if they were flying over the Gulf of Mexico instead of the Atlantic Ocean, that advice would have not worked. He was then ordered to land at NASFL, where he later learned of their disappearance.
"This story was told and retold to me through the years by my mother, always with great reverence:
A few months after World War II my father was still serving with the Navy in the Pacific and my mother, Cora Jane Parker, was the District Manager for Cities Service Oil Company. On 5 December 1945, she had just made a delivery of AV gas to the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale and was looking for the duty Lieutenant to sign for it. When she couldn't find him she asked around and was told he was in the Radio Room. She had been there before. She went there and when she entered, she was hit by an eerie sense of quiet, unlike the busy chatter that normally filled it. It was hushed and no one was speaking. The only sound was the crackle and static of the radio speakers. When the Lieutenant signed for the fuel delivery my mother asked about the strange silence in the Radio Room. The Lieutenant explained that a flight of torpedo bombers on a training mission had disappeared and they were waiting for any signs of transmissions from them.
Later that evening when my mother returned home she ran into a pretty young neighbor who complained to her that her date had 'stood her up' and went on to fault him in particular-- and flyboys in general-- for taking advantage of local girls. When my mother informed her that her date was probably missing in action and very likely would not be coming back, the young girl was saddened, embarrassed by the way she had been acting, and quickly changed her tune. Now, like many young women during the War, her man would not be coming home to her."
Observation: The United States home front during World War II, supported the war effort in many ways, including a wide range of volunteer efforts. Many women joined the workforce to replace men who had joined the forces. Gender roles were dramatically altered from then on. The increased likelihood that a woman was working outside the home in addition to her homemaking responsibilities was certain. Many women worked in volunteer organizations connected with the war effort. The above letter sheds a small light not only on the events surrounding Flight 19, but also on women helping at the home front during WWII.